What: Changes to laws regarding dog attacks on federal land in San Francisco
When: Challenges to existing law arose in 2019
What happens if you (or your dog) are attacked by an aggressive canine in one of San Francisco’s many parks? You may not be as protected as you thought.
Did you know the city of San Francisco actually has a “vicious and dangerous dogs” unit? It currently consists of a single officer and for many years, that one officer essentially acted as the prosecution in court cases involving a dog attack. (If you or your dog is attacked anywhere in the city, contact SFPD to file a report immediately.)
Unfortunately, the city and the National Park Service are currently in limbo regarding who, exactly, is responsible for doling out punishment – both monetary and behavioral – when a dog attacks. SFPD has been determined to have “no jurisdiction” in cases that occur on federal land, which is technically overseen by the National Park Service. As of now, the National Park Service hasn’t released a set of ironclad rule or regulations regarding disputes.
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The city and the park service say they’re working on it together in the wake of several high-profile escalations of such cases. Nearly 400 aggressive dog cases have been filed with the city in the last 3 years alone. Without an agreement, dog owners who’ve been attacked can’t ask for the attacker to be banned from parks, to be humanely euthanized, or even for veterinary bill restitution.
Park goers, beware. This purgatory applies in all of SF’s many federal parks including popular spots such as The Presidio, Fort Mason, Crissy Field, and Fort Funston. Keep your dog on a leash, especially in off-leash parks, and be sure it’s fully vaccinated in case of a tussle.